Jarateng Pass North

23 Feb 2014 13:04 #59726 by ghaznavid
Yesterday turned out to be quite a productive day - North Jarding Pass and 3 carbineers done, leaving me with only 1 pass at Giant's (Corner) and 5 khulus (Corner, Judge, Auditor, Mount Durnford and Long Wall). I will put details and photos on the 3 Carbineers we did (Bond, Erskine and Potterill) on the Carbineers Thread.

So details on the North Pass:

The approach we took - trying to avoid that horrible loose overgrown bottom bit - was to follow the nose of the ridge coming off Potterill. There is a line straight up this ridge from the edge of the firebreaks (it looks like a path at a 90 degree angle to the contour path just before it drops down to the Jarding river). We followed this till reaching a large flat ledge at 2400m. From there we traversed, while gaining altitude, till we reached the pass gully at 2500m (in thick mist). The gully is obvious when approached like this. The river was strong, and we stayed on the right (true left) bank. This approach was good - but it would probably be easier to approach it from the river below as one would normally approach such passes.

From here we followed the right hand (true left) bank. In retrospect we should have crossed the river and stuck to the other side. This bank is very steep and has plenty of rock bands that you have to find a line through - there are plenty of gaps, but still not ideal.

At about 2800m the mist started to move down and we had an amazing view up the pass and behind us. It was clear that we should have been on the true right bank - so we crossed the scree field and followed the grass bank to the cliff below Mount Durnford. From there it is easy to find the top of the pass - which is very wide.

There are a few good looking caves on the Potterhill slopes - but with so much to do in a day hike we really didn't have the time to check these out. There is a really good looking cave at about 3000m, I refer to it as "Potterill Cave".

This is the top of the pass - you can clearly see Potterill Cave


The grass slopes below Mount Durnford


The view looking back from near the top of the pass


By no means the steepest pass in the Giants Castle area


The scree field at the top of the pass is easily avoidable by following the gentle grass bank near it


Top of the pass from just below the summit of Potterill Peak, Mount Durnford in the background


The pass isn't so obvious from a distance - there is a flat ledge between Potterill and Durnford, aim for this and once you are on top of it the pass is easy to spot.


Summary of the Jarding Passes

Easiest route: probably the north pass if you take the bank that we should have taken. None of the passes are difficult - I rated each of them 4/10, but the south pass may be closer to a 3/10.
Hardest route: south pass - no question. But it isn't hard, just not quite as easy as the others
Most scenic: unquestionably the north pass - no contest
Would I recommend it to a newbie: no - but only because it may be difficult to find a route in the mist if you don't know the area

Note on the routes - for all the passes you need to stick to the south/true right banks. None require scrambling, all are entirely grass slopes if you choose your route well.

How I would rate the passes of Giant's Castle:

There is no official boundary between Giants and Injisuthi, but I would say that logically Boundary Ridge must be the border - based on the name and it being roughly equidistant from the car parks. With this as a boundary, I am only short of Corner Pass at Giants - so I have done 11 out of 12 - I also have a few possible new passes to check out. Seeing as Corner Pass is a rock pass, but most of the others aren't, here is how I rate the non-rock passes of Giant's Castle (Thumb Pass excluded as it is also a rock pass):

Easiest to most difficult
1) Langies - 2/10
2) Central Jarding - 3-4/10
3) North Jarding - 4/10
4) South Jarding - 4/10
5) North Hlubi - 4/10
6) Bannerman - 4-5/10 (although I did this pass 4 times, but all before I was actually Drakensberg fit)
7) South Hlubi 5/10
8) Giant's Pass 5/10
9) Judge Pass 5/10
10) Gypaetus Pass 7/10

Most scenic
1) Gypaetus Pass 5/5
2) Giant's Pass 5/5
3) North Jarding - 4/5
4) Judge Pass 4/5
5) Bannerman - 3/5
6) Langies - 3/5
7) North Hlubi - 3/5
8) South Jarding - 2/5
9) South Hlubi 2/5
10) Central Jarding - 2/5

Note that 2/5 doesn't mean it lacks an impressive view - 1/5 would still be an amazing view, but 5/5 would the likes of Mnweni Pass while 1/5 would be passes where the view isn't anything too special.

Passes at Giant's Castle by how worthwhile they are

1) Giant's Pass - the cliffs towering above you, relatively easy route and numerous caves make this an awesome route. A true Berg classic! This pass is so prominent that you can see it from Van Reenens Pass on a clear day.
2) North Jarding Pass - this is due to the view combined with a relatively easy route.
3) Gypaetus Pass - the view from this pass is incredible, but you have to work for it! (I may be slightly biased on this one)
4) Langalibalele Pass - combine history, an easy route and a pretty good view and you get something that's really worthwhile. Every beginner should do this pass
5) Judge Pass - the trail up the route has made this a viable option for anyone. The pass tops out very high, but also starts very high. The views are incredible.
6) Bannerman Pass - the cliffs towering above you, a hut at the base and cave half way up are great, but the volume of loose rock through the middle really detracts from this route. It would be higher on this list if it wasn't for the unavoidable scree field
7) North Hlubi Pass - not very steep and has a pretty good view. There are some caves, but I have never checked these out
8) South Hlubi Pass - formerly named Langalibalele Pass, but the name replaced Bushmans River Pass on the early mapw. This pass is very steep, but the gully is wide and navigation is easy. Nice to pair with Langies as a day hike. It is actually a great pass, the views of the Thumb are also rather impressive
9) South Jarding Pass - wow, 9th doesn't sound very good, but this is actually quite an enjoyable pass.
10) Central Jarding Pass - this is actually quite a nice route, relatively easy, a few nice caves half way up - but it isn't in the same league as the passes listed above

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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28 Jun 2015 17:09 #64404 by Zecrates
Replied by Zecrates on topic Jarateng Pass North
Thanks for the write-up!

I'm looking to do a trip going up Giant's Pass and down the North Jarateng pass in the near future, and everything seems fairly straightforward except that I'm unsure of the options once you've reached the base of the Jarateng passes. Looking at Google Earth I can see where the pass "path" joins up with the contour path which heads onwards to the Langalibale route, but it seems like there must be a more direct route back to the Giant's Castle resort. Looking at the map below I'd expect there to be a path in the direction of my orange, or more likely my blue arrow:



Is there a decent path available that won't involve too much bushwhacking, or is the better option to continue with the contour path?

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07 Jul 2015 15:38 #64489 by kliktrak
Replied by kliktrak on topic Jarateng Pass North
Hi

Im sure more expert info will be forthcoming from Ghaznavid who has done the Jarateng/Jarding passes routes and knows Giants area very well.

I did join him on the one expedition, and we used Middle Ridge - If I am not mistaken that is the ridge on the Blue line on your image. There is a path on it, and it is not used much these days, but the path is still visible and clear for most of the way, it drops down and joins the main path to the Giants Castle Camp, so in my view it is the fastest track to take back.

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07 Jul 2015 15:45 #64490 by Smurfatefrog
Replied by Smurfatefrog on topic Jarateng Pass North
There is a GPS track of it here

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08 Jul 2015 21:32 #64497 by Zecrates
Replied by Zecrates on topic Jarateng Pass North
Thanks, I'll give it a try.

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09 Jul 2015 08:42 #64499 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Jarateng Pass North
@Zecrates: Generally speaking the walking on ridges is easy, so even if there isn't a clear path you're unlikely to encounter bundu bashing on top of the lower Berg. A couple of issues to consider though: There is normally not much water on these ridges and you have to choose your exit point carefully. On a couple of occasions I ended up directly above a vertical cliff face and had to do a bit of a detour to find a decent place where I could decend to the valley floor.

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18 Apr 2016 07:04 - 18 Apr 2016 07:10 #67868 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Jarateng Pass North
North Jarateng Pass

Lorinda, Lenard and tonymarshall descended North Jarateng Pass, having ascended Langalibalele Pass in mist the previous afternoon and tenting in the upper Langalibalele valley beneath Durnford ridge overnight. Here of some photos of the pass to add to those already posted.

The top of North Jarateng Pass viewed from the slopes of Potterill with the Durnford ridge in the background.



Tony at the top of North Jarateng Pass, with Giant’s Castle in the background.



We found a trail from the top of the pass, which we had seen from the summit of Potterill earlier, and followed it down. We had planned to descend the pass following the grass slopes on the true right side of the gully, and this path also was on the right of the gully, although it veered off to the right (south) soon and we left it not long after taking the photo below to follow the slope nearer to the gully. Although there was a lot of scree in the upper section of the pass, there was enough grass in between to make walking easy. There was evidence of animals using the trail, and we assumed the path was used by Basotho for grazing for their animals on the grass slopes to the south of the pass.



A view down North Jarateng Pass. We would keep to the true right side of the gully the whole way down, although descending in the gully or on the true left would also have been possible.



A view back up the top section of the pass.



We had been looking out for the cave ghaznavid had noted in his post above, and once we spotted it, left our packs on the true right and crossed to the true left (north) of the gully to get a closer look. Potterill Cave is quite large, but with very little level floor area, and could probably only sleep one or two people comfortably.



A view back up the pass.



As also noted by ghaznavid, there are many other caves on the slopes of Potterill, but none appeared to be any better than Potterill Cave, so we didn’t explore any of them further.

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Last edit: 18 Apr 2016 07:10 by tonymarshall.

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18 Apr 2016 07:08 #67869 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Jarateng Pass North
Descending further, we soon spotted another large cave on the slopes of Mount Durnford, on the true left.



We went to the cave, which we decided to refer to as North Jarateng Cave, for a closer look. It was again quite large but with very little level floor area, and much like Potterill Cave, not really useful for much other than a shady spot for a break on a hot, sunny day, or a place to shelter from a sudden downpour or afternoon thunderstorm.



A view up North Jarateng Pass from the lower grass slopes, with the slopes of Mount Durnford on the left, and Potterill on the right, in the photo below.



A view down the lower grass slope, to the junction of the stream coming from Central and South Jarateng Passes from the right.



A view back up North Jarateng Pass. To avoid the steep side slope near the bottom of the pass, we had got into the stream bed for the last section down.



The junction of the streams from Central and North Jarateng Passes, with Central Jarateng Pass in the middle of the photo below, and North Jarateng Pass to the right.



A view back to the three Jarateng Passes, with South Jarateng Pass at the left and North Jarateng Pass at the right. Kambule is the peak between the South and Central Jarateng Passes, and Mount Durnford is the peak between the Central and North Jarateng Passes. Other people have mentioned a bushy area at the base of the Jarateng Passes, but it was really not bad and with clear visibility we were easily able to avoid passing through anything more than some sparse bushes.



We continued downstream to the Contour Path, which was followed north for a short distance before we turned off for our walk out eastwards along Middle Ridge, at the centre of the photo below.

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09 Sep 2016 22:21 #69732 by GerritHuman
Replied by GerritHuman on topic Jarateng Pass North

tonymarshall wrote: North Jarateng Pass

Tony at the top of North Jarateng Pass, with Giant’s Castle in the background.


Hi All

Me and my friends want to go hiking in the Giants Castle area the 3rd weekend in October. I don't know this area well. The closest pass I have done is Langalibalele Pass.

It will be 3 days:
1) Giants Castle Camp -> Norhtern Jarateng Pass
2) Jarateng Pass -> Giants Castle
3) Giants Castle -> Back to camp

So I have a few questions:
1) How difficult would it be to hike from from Giants Castle Camp to the top of Norhtern Jarateng Pass in one day? Scale of 1 to 10?
I see on the gps routes there is a camping spot at the bottom of Jarateng. So if the group is tired we can just camp there for the night.

2) I see in tonymarshall photo there is a nice flat camping spot at the top of Norhtern Jarateng Pass. Is there any water up there?

3) Is there a nice camping spot near the top of Giants Castle?

4) Is there any water near the top of Giants Castle?

5) How bad is rain end of October? Wind on the escarpment?

Here is the route I had in mind:



Thanks

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11 Sep 2016 08:19 #69736 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Jarateng Pass North

GerritHuman wrote: 1) How difficult would it be to hike from from Giants Castle Camp to the top of Norhtern Jarateng Pass in one day? Scale of 1 to 10?

If Chain Ladders is a 1 and Icidi is a 10, this is probably a 3. Harder than Langies, easier than Bannerman. It is one of the easiest passes without a trail that I have done.

GerritHuman wrote: 2) I see in tonymarshall photo there is a nice flat camping spot at the top of Norhtern Jarateng Pass. Is there any water up there?

There is a rather substantial river flowing at the base of the pass, but whether or not there will be water depends on rain between now and then. Rivers on the SA side of the border are low right now.

GerritHuman wrote: 3) Is there a nice camping spot near the top of Giants Castle?

There is, but rather camp on the south side of Long Wall. There is a nice spot about 100m vertical from the top of the ridge. Giants Castle gets a massive amount of traffic and might not be safe.

GerritHuman wrote: 4) Is there any water near the top of Giants Castle?

Not near the top of the peak, but there are usually marshes and streams flowing lower down. I usually get water just as you come over the Long Wall ridge.

GerritHuman wrote: 5) How bad is rain end of October? Wind on the escarpment?

Depends on the day. Giants is notorious for bad winds.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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